More than $32 million of education funding will soon be available for Colorado schools due to Gov. Jared Polis Sept. 9 launch of the Response, Innovation and Student Equity Education fund.

A news release issued by the governor’s office said the funding will support high-needs school districts, charter schools and public colleges and universities “to create sustainable innovations to improve student learning, close equity gaps and enhance operational efficiency for pre-K-12 through higher education.”

The program will use federal funds from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund, included as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. It will “support locally driven solutions, help to address structural challenges that have the potential to be replicated in the future, and advance equity by reaching the students most likely to have been affected by the economic, social, and health impacts of the COVID-19 crisis,” according to the release. 

Specific areas of focus include “providing new student-focused models of learning, rethinking the student experience in higher education, strengthening and formalizing linkages between P-12, higher education and industry, and catalyzing innovations that can drive long-term impact after the life of the grant.”

Proposals from schools that serve rural areas will be given priority, as will schools or school districts with a priority improvement or turnaround status, and those that address significant equity gaps.


Applicants can pursue grants ranging between $250,000 and $4 million, depending on their size, the number of children served and quality of the application. Funds will be available for use by Sept. 30, 2022.

The deadline for the first round of applications is Oct.17. Applicants can find more information about the grant here

Once submitted, applications will be reviewed by a grant selection committee made up of parents, educators, students, education leaders and other community members appointed by Polis and chaired by Gary Community Investments President and CEO Mike Johnston.

In addition to the RISE Fund, the governor announced a public-private partnership with funders, including the Gates Family Foundation and Gary Community Investments, to provide resources and strategic design support for applicants to ensure the fund reaches diverse geographies across the state, the release said. Grants will be available to assist applicants who plan to apply prior to the Dec. 19 RISE deadline to ensure a robust community engagement and strategic design process for communities that need more time and resources to submit quality applications.

Applicants can find more information about the private-public partnerships fund here.   


Zach Hillstrom is a Colorado Springs native and graduate of Colorado State University-Pueblo. He has worked as a reporter for Southern Colorado print outlets since 2015.